Message from the Dean
In its 95 years of history, the Graduate School of Arts and Letters at Tohoku University has made remarkable accomplishments in a wide variety of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. With these as a foundation, the GSAL continues to provide highly specialized instruction into the present. We cover a wide variety of research objects and methodologies ranging from humanities departments like philosophy, literature, and history that deal with documents and archives to empirical research-based investigation and experimentation in fields such as linguistics, sociology, and psychology. At the heart of this work is the distinctive subject of the spirit and behavior of 'humanity'.
While in the past the humanities have been described as 'soft sciences', in contrast with the practical sciences, in recent years they have come to be directly connected to solutions to a variety of real world problems. This is because the wisdom to undertake a multi-faceted and subtle deciphering of the nature of humanity required to grasp complexly interconnected values and perspectives and pave the road to an intelligent consensus is increasingly recognized as a necessity.
Research in history, culture, and society can be described as the study of how humanity thinks/has thought about things, what it believes/has believed, and how it behaves/has behaved. More than simply expanding knowledge about particular subjects or events, it is nothing less than the search for an understanding of how we ourselves have come to our present conditions, in other words, the search for self-understanding in the broadest sense. The deeper and richer that this self-understanding grows, the wiser our decision-making for the future becomes.
Today the Graduate School of Arts and Letters is in the process of examining the forms of education and research best suited for this time of changes and is transforming itself on the basis of the wisdom produced so far. An example of this transformation is the current preparations to establish the International Graduate School of Japanese Studies Program in cooperation with over 20 European universities as a part of our plans for a new "Japanese Studies" oriented towards a global perspective. Since the 2011 disaster, the Practical Religious Studies Course is coming up on its sixth year and has reached the point of sending certified clinical religious specialists out into society. We are also showing growth in research in humanities-sciences fusion fields like applied ethics and statistical social sciences. These transformations are being done in accordance with our main mission of advancing problem-solving skills based on the subject of wisdom, that is to say the deepening of self-understanding, in the GSAL. What we are aiming for is the synthesis of learning and thinking with better living.
Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University